Study: Loneliness Is Added Health Risk for Seniors
HOST: For people over 60, loneliness is more than a bad feeling, it's bad for your health. KQED's Charla Bear reports on a UC-San Francisco study that finds lonely seniors face a higher risk of serious health problems.
CHARLA BEAR: Isolated. Left out. Lacking companionship.
More than 40 percent of seniors in the new UCSF study said they sometimes, or often, feel that way.
Those who reported being lonely were also much more likely to lose their ability to take care of simple needs like bathing and eating than people who were content with their social lives. They were also 45 percent more likely to die prematurely.
Dr. Carla Perissinotto is a geriatrician and lead researcher on the study.
DR. CARLA PERISSINOTTO: It was frankly really sad. And I thought, wow, I had a feeling there would be an association but I had no idea it would be this strong. It's a realization that loneliness]= is affecting people's health.
BEAR: Dr. Perissinotto says the cure is not as simple as making sure your parents or grandparents live with others. Most people in the study who said they felt lonely were actually married.
The key, Perissinotto says, is to make sure older people have meaningful connections.